First Year Teaching

To New Teachers, With Love

So the advice giveaway is over, and we have a winner!

It’s Heather!!! Message me your address on Facebook so I can send you your gift card!  🙂

THANK YOU to all of you who contributed; we are only as strong as the sum of our parts. I appreciate you with my big appreciative heart.

New teachers, this year you’ll be faced with a thousand decisions to make on the spot.

It will be the most difficult thing you’ll ever do if you do it well.

You might cry, but you don’t necessarily have to.

Ask for help, be a sponge, learn from everything. We believe in you. 



Gift Card Giveaway!!: Advice to First Year Teachers: I need YOU, Teachers!

Hey ya’ll! I’ve shared things about what I’ve learned about my earlier years of teaching in the past, but alas I am still a babe when it comes to experience. It would be boring if I just wrote another one by myself for this year. I’m going to write a post of collected advice from anyone I can get my hands on (that sounded creepy) to share with new teachers at the beginning of this year. I will credit each and every one of your lovely faces.


Everyone who responds will be put in a raffle to win a 20 dollar Visa gift card to spend on anything you please to prep for the school year!!! (wine, anyone?) You may only enter once, but feel free to give a couple or a few pieces of advice if you are just that sage.

Whom I need: Anyone who has taught for at least a year, anywhere! Even at the college level.

What I need: A piece of advice in 1-3 sentences. If you have a link to more detailed advice, include it!

Extras: If you are so inclined, leave your name or screen name. Also please leave your blog website too, if you have one, and I will link it! Twitter handles are great too.

Deadline: August 10th, 2015

How you can give this to me: Comment on my facebook page (and like it while you’re there, plz), comment on this blog, or tweet to @Shannasclass

PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH YOUR TEACHER COMRADES. I only have such a reach on my own, and I would like to pool as many people as possible.

Example: “If there’s one thing I wish I would have known during my first year, it would be this: don’t forget to shower.” 



I’m so excited to hear from everyone! I’m this excited: 

Day 6: What does a good mentor do?

Hey y’all! No day 5 because I forgot to take a picture of my classroom before I left the building for the weekend…but it’ll be up Monday!

“What does a good mentor do?”

Mentoring in education is pretty crucial, as it is in most professions. A good mentor can most likely impact your staying a teacher and not ditching a couple years in because you feel ineffective, unsupported, and uninspired. I have been and am still being mentored by a couple people, so here is my breakdown of what I think a good mentor does:


Clear to Neutral

I read somewhere that to be ready to teach every day, you have to practice
“Clear to Neutral.”

The practice of “Clear to Neutral” relates to procrastination and disorganization. If you leave a kitchen messy the day you plan to make a large dinner, it takes more time to clean it up and get ready to make a quality meal. You could cook in a messy kitchen, but then you risk contamination, you can’t find counter space, you get stressed out because everything’s dirty and you have to keep rewashing the same spatula. You clear your kitchen to neutral (i.e., restore it to its normal state) before any good productivity can happen.

More extrapolation on this here.

Once I read this, I began paying attention to the small things—my binder storage area in the classroom was a wreck, I had no system for my kids to get notebook paper, I hadn’t vacuumed my carpet in about a week, and it just looked straight up messy up in room 102.

There is, as well as physical neutrality, mental neutrality. These are the menial tasks: grading, grade entering into Progressbook, taking care of myself, packing my lunch the night before, making sure I get in bed at a decent hour, putting effort into how I dress for school. I don’t enjoy doing these things, so I tend to put them off. Really, it just builds up and affects my work performance. If I’m not prepared for class or not “there” that day, my energy is shot and therefore the class period is a waste.

I have been attempting “Clear to Neutral” for the past few weeks, and it’s paying off. My planning has been a lot more focused, my attitude has been better, I feel more prepared, I have more energy, and my general overall feeling about teaching has improved. I’m able to get to that deeper level of reflection when I have more time for it; as a first year teacher, reflection is crucial. The more I get to reflect, the more I learn about myself and my practice.


Damage Control

They say that the earlier you identify a problem, the more likely you are to prevent damage.

I guess what I’m about to say is kind of like that.

I’m not going to play up my teaching experience as a wonderful, squishy nice, fun fest in which every day I awoke with energy brimming, ready to embrace my disadvantaged, minority, inner-city students.

Not every day have I felt like that. Definitely some days, more than not I’d say, but not every day.

I highly doubt anybody feels like that. Not even those peppy Teach For America over-achievers. (A TFA-er works at my school, in which we discuss often that this job doesn’t get easier, only more difficult). Not that difficult’s a bad thing, but I notice that I have asked myself at least once this year:

“What if I went to med school?”

“What if I went to law school?”

“Is it too late to transfer to the business sector?”

“How long ’till I retire?”